Written By: Matt Peddycord
WCW Great American Bash
June 16, 1996
The current WCW champs were as follows:
WCW World Champion: The Giant (4/29/1996)
WCW U.S. Champion: Konnan (1/29/1996)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Sting & Lex Luger (1/22/1996)
WCW World Television Champion: Lex Luger (3/6/1996)
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko (5/18/1996)
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Dusty Rhodes. Tony mentions the death of Dusty’s old tag team partner and friend, Dick Murdoch.
Sgt. Craig Pittman brings out the U.S. flag for the national anthem.
Rick & Scott Steiner vs. Fire & Ice
Two power teams with several undecided contests lead to a “must be a winner” match. You’d think that would mean no DQ and no countout, but no mention of that is made. In case you haven’t been following or didn’t watch WCW back then, Fire & Ice is Scott Norton and Ice Train. Scott and Train start the match. Train controls until the Steiners clean house, allowing the Steiners to do their dog routine. Back in, Norton and Rick HOOK ‘EM UP. Cool spot where Norton rolls through a schoolboy and levels Rick with a clothesline. A Steinerline fixes Norton up for a Belly-to-Belly Suplex. Tag to Scott, Norton catches him with a Samoan drop to ‘injure’ a shoulder. Train tags in and works over Scott. He comes back with a Spinning Belly to Belly Suplex out of the corner. Norton tags and gets dumped on his shoulder out of a t-bone suplex. Ouch. Scott flies off the top into a powerslam for two. Norton is the only one trying to work the shoulder. Train comes in and grabs a chinlock. Back to Norton, SHOULDERBREAKER to Scott Steiner! He grabs a Fujiwara armbar and Rick runs in to stomp Norton. It takes about FIVE STOMPS to the face to make Norton release the hold! While Norton delivers another SHOULDERBREAKER, Rick blind tags Scott and blasts him with a Steinerline. Release German to Norton! Train dumps out Scott, leaving Rick to take a powerbomb/flying splash from Fire & Ice. Scott manages to save Rick from a doomsday device. STEINER BULLDOG to Norton! Train makes the save. While Rick grabs hold of Ice Train, Scott finishes off Norton with a bad looking FRANKENSTEINER. (10:28) Even though Ice Train looked lost in there sometimes, Norton more than picked up the slack. Good little power match from these two teams. It won’t be much longer before Norton turns on Ice Train for that scintillating feud. **¾
Gene Okerlund talks with Kevin Sullivan and Jimmy Hart. Funny how Kevin Sullivan says he knows what makes a Horsemen without ever actually being one himself.
WCW U.S. Heavyweight Champion Konnan vs. El Gato
El Gato is none other than Pat Tanaka looking like a tubby Tiger Mask. Just having Konnan wrestle Pat Tanaka would really have had just the same effect. No need to make up this character hyped as a superstar in South America. They do some armdrags and leg whips which bores the crowd. Gato grapevines the arms and uses the ropes for leverage. Konnan fights out into a sitout powerbomb for a nearfall. Now Konnan takes over with his usual submissions. Crowd could not care less here. Konnan hits the rolling clothesline for two. To the floor, Konnan sidesteps a baseball slide and sunset flip powerbombs Gato from the apron to the floor. That creates a minor stir in Konnan’s favor while Tanaka lays looking injured on the floor. Back in, Konnan catches Gato trying a float over in the corner and Alabama Slams him down for the 1-2-3. (6:00) Solid enough I guess, but only about 20-30 seconds of excitement. *½
In the back, Sting calls Lord Steven Regal a homosexual without ever actually saying the word.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Marcus Bagwell
Wasn’t this supposed to be Page vs. Duggan? Listen at me complaining about not seeing a Duggan match. Anyways, the Battlebowl ring is on the line. Let’s see how Bagwell does in a PPV singles match. Unless I’m wrong, this would be Bagwell’s first singles match on PPV after being with WCW for five years. DDP catches Bagwell off guard to start, but then gets flipped out to the floor where Bagwell beats him out into the front row. Inside the ring, Bagwell hits a crossbody block for two. It’s armbar time. Page cheapshots Bagwell to escape, but then gets rocked out to the floor for a neat Bagwell pescado. Bagwell heads to the top, but Page crotches him and starts up the choking. Big Gutbuster fails, so DDP settles for a backbreaker. Nice pumphandle suplex gets two. Rope-assisted ab stretch follows. He gets caught and Bagwell escapes with a hiptoss. Page hits the Pancake Slam for 1-2-NO! Page whiffs on a kick and HERE COMES BAGWELL! He delivers atomic drops from both sides. Clotheslines set up Air Pillman for 1-2-NO! Page back elbows Bagwell as he’s charging at him in the corner. Feet on the ropes gets a couple two-count. Bagwell hits a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and tries the FISHERMAN’S SUPLEX. Page hooks the ropes, pops Bagwell in the gut and nails the DIAMOND CUTTER out of nowhere for 1-2-3. (9:29) People are finally starting to pop for that Diamond Cutter as it becomes one of the most popular finishers of the Monday Night Wars. **
Okerlund gets a word from the Giant and Jimmy Hart. There’s no way Luger is going to get the Torture Rack on the Giant. No way, no how. Not possible. Not going to happen.
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Mike Tenay joins us for Rey Mysterio’s WCW debut. Both Malenko and Mysterio deliver some nice escapes and counters to a wristlock. Malenko tries grounding Mysterio with a chinlock. That’s no good as Rey gets to his feet. After an awesome exchange as they run off the ropes, Mysterio puts Malenko on the floor with a lucha armdrag. Springboard dropkick takes Malenko off the apron to the floor. Back in, Mysterio sunset flips OVER Malenko out of a knucklelock, but Malenko rolls through that and catapults Rey over the top rope to the floor. Rey avoids a baseball slide, leaving Malenko to rethink his strategy. Back in again, Malenko does indeed change his strategy and decides to break Rey’s elbow inside and out of the ring. Rey kicks back and walks up the ropes to dropkick Malenko away. He can’t follow up though as Malenko shoves off a hurracanrana. Rey lands on his feet, but then gets run down with a clothesline for two. Back to the elbow. Just call him Dean Anderson in this match. Richard Dean Anderson, perhaps? Hammerlock back suplex gets two. Release hammerlock Northern Lights suplex gets another two count. I mean, DANG. More cranking on the elbow leads to a surfboard. Mysterio slips out into a bridge from Malenko for two. That was cool. Painful looking hammerlock roll looks like it could quit Mysterio, but no sir. Short-arm scissors doesn’t finish him off either. Backdrop driver from Malenko only gets two. Butterfly suplex gets another two count for Malenko. WHAT MORE CAN HE DO TO MYSTERIO? Malenko reverts back to the elbow and tries a Fujiwara armbar. Still no tap out. Mysterio gets a break once he’s vertical. He flings Malenko off him to send him out to the floor. Rey dropkicks Malenko back for a SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Back inside, a springboard dropkick gets 1-2-NO! Mysterio falls on top of Malenko and gets a nearfall. SPRINGBOARD HURRACANRANA (West Coast Pop) gets 1-2-NO! Where’s the selling of the elbow? Mysterio gets caught up top, anticipates the Top Rope Gutbuster, and ranas Malenko down to the mat. Rey falls on top of Malenko out of a tilt-a-whirl for two. Mysterio jumps up on Malenko’s shoulders and tries a spinning hurracanrana, but Malenko sees it coming and powerbombs the life of Mysterio. With his feet on the ropes, he gets the 1-2-3. (17:48) Fantastic debut for Rey. This would be a great example of putting someone over by beating them. But yeah, what about the elbow there, Rey? ****
Gene Okerlund speaks with Lex Luger. Very stoic interview. Giant may think he’s invincible? Well, so did Michael Jackson.
John Tenta vs. Big Bubba (w/Jimmy Hart)
WOW. Talk about a drop off in quality. Tenta has no evil fish music or any music at all for that matter, because he is a MAN! He still only has a half-head of hair. Bubba gets squashed until he goes to his tights for some help ala Abdullah the Butcher and jabs Tenta. Count ‘em THREE Bossman Straddles set up the slide into the uppercut. That gets two. Bubba trips up Tenta and posts the leg. That goes nowhere. Bubba delivers a back suplex on Tenta and heads up top. Bad idea. Bubba gets caught for the slam for 1-2-3. (5:22) Tenta finds Jimmy’s scissors and threatens to cut off Jimmy Hart’s hair. Bubba tries to save and splashes Jimmy away by accident. Uh oh, now Bubba gets his beard clipped off. OH NOES! Proof positive why this is one of the worst feuds of 1996. Carson City Silver Dollar match is next! Oh boy. ¼*
Gene Okerlund meets with Steve McMichael, Kevin Greene, and the wives. They yell stuff and here comes Randy Savage. Football metaphors everywhere! THEY’RE ALL PSYCHED!
Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan (w/Jimmy Hart) – Falls Count Anywhere
YAY! Sullivan doesn’t think Benoit ought to be a Horsemen, but Benoit disagrees. Thus, a fight ensues. It’s a fight in the aisleway to start. And just like that, they are brawling up the stairs into the men’s bathroom. Of course, you’ll have to hear the classic lines from Dusty for yourself. Sullivan slams the freakin’ stall door on Benoit’s head a whole bunch. That’s just nasty. Benoit fires back. Tony ~ “HEAD FIRST TO THE COMMODE!” Benoit avoids a mouthful of toilet water and slams the stall door on Sullivan. Benoit grabs a plastic bag and tries to choke Sullivan back, but Sullivan goes to the eyes. They trade trash can shots and right hands. Back over to the steps, Sullivan shoves Benoit down a good twenty rows and then STOMPS him directly in the balls. Benoit fires back again, but Sullivan drops him crotch-first on the guardrail. Once they’re at ringside, Benoit returns the favor and knocks Sullivan in the front row. Meanwhile, Benoit pulls a table out from under the ring and leans it over in the corner. Benoit gets whipped on the table, but avoids a splash from Sullivan. He sets the table up on the top turnbuckle, but charges into a backdrop onto the table. Sullivan meets Benoit on the table, but takes a SUPERPLEX TO THE MAT! Cool visual, but it doesn’t make the superplex any more powerful or impactful. Cover, 1-2-3. (10:00) Benoit continues his assault until Arn Anderson runs down and pulls him off Sullivan. What’s going to happen? Oh, Arn just wanted to join in on the stomping. They do a number on Sullivan until the Dungeon of Doom chase the Horsemen away. Super stiff brawl that MADE Benoit in WCW. ****¼
Gene Okerlund is standing by with Woman and Elizabeth. Flair, Arn, and Benoit catch up to them. Sullivan tried to poison the Four Horsemen, but now the war is on. Heenan clears up any accusations of him being scared of Randy Savage being at ringside in the main event with hard swallows and stuttering. Flair makes everything okay by telling us all that there’s a lot of things Savage wishes he could still do but he can’t, right Liz? WOO!
Sting vs. Lord Steven Regal (w/Jeeves)
In theory, this feud is strangely similar to the Rick James/Charlie Murphy confrontation sans f-words, black people, and couches. Regal slapped Sting to make a statement to WCW to get this mini-feud going and as Charlie Murphy says, you don’t slap a man. Sting beats Regal to the floor to start and backdrops him on the floor. In the ring, Regal begs off and thumbs Sting in the eye. European uppercuts rock Sting pretty hard. Sting comes out of a headlock and Japanese armdrags Regal away. Regal takes a walk outside to yell at the filthy Americans. Back inside, Regal wants a handshake, so Sting freaks him out with a little Pelvis Elvis move. Sting fights up from a knucklelock position and bridges Regal down to the mat. Nice. Regal goes back to the forearms and pounds Sting to the mat for an extended full nelson. Geez, nobody can say Sting didn’t take a beating throughout his career. The only mistake Regal makes is when he lets Sting get to his feet. He winds up having to cold cock Sting to put him back down for more stretching. Sting’s on his feet again and starts to NO-SELL Regal’s forearms. Thumb to the eye hurts really bad though. Sting EXPLODES on Regal with clotheslines. Regal catches Sting up top for a Butterfly Superplex for 1-2-NO! REGAL STRETCH! Sting won’t submit, so Regal gives up on his best hold. He unloads with palm strikes and forearms on Sting in the corner, then a slap wakes him up. YOU DON’T SLAP A MAN! He fires back on Regal and whips in for the Stinger Splash to set up the SCORPION DEATHLOCK. That’ll do. (16:29) Great showing from Regal as he showed he could hang with the main eventers. Crowd didn’t really care though unless Sting was on the offense. ***¼
Ric Flair & Arn Anderson (w/Bobby Heenan, Elizabeth & Woman) vs. Steve McMichael & Kevin Greene (w/Randy Savage)
Might I say that Mongo and Greene’s theme music is plum awful. By the way, Bobby is NOT managing, he’s just merely coaching Flair and Anderson here. Great opportunity though to have Heenan hanging out with the Horsemen. Just like Savage is coaching, not managing. Arn and Mongo start the match. Arn tries to make a fool out of McMichael early with a headlock into a hammerlock sequence. Schiavone makes the comment that Mongo left the Bears for the Packers over money, which should clue you in on what will transpire here. McMichael decides not to wrestle and starts rushing the leg like a football player. Arn challenges Mongo to a football stance and suckers him into a drop toe hold. McMichael comes back with a flying shoulder tackle. Arn nails Greene to bring him inside for the football players to do a big stomp job on Arn. He bails and runs into Savage. Savage heads up to the top and scares Heenan away. Heenan gives some advice to Flair and Arn and we’re back in the ring. Arn challenges Greene and then tags in Flair. Stylin’ and profilin’ ensues. Flair suckers Greene into a football stance and kicks him in the head. Doesn’t matter. Greene shoves off Flair when he tries to chop and sends Flair running up the aisle. Savage grabs hold of him and brings Flair back to the ring. Tomorrow on Nitro, Savage gets reinstated and gets his match with Flair! Greene gives Flair a backdrop and delivers a series of clotheslines. Mongo tags and runs Arn off the apron. Flair tries to play the mind games, can’t shoulderblock Mongo down, so he baits Mongo into the corner for some chops. NO-SELL! Mongo chops Flair back and delivers a hiptoss. BAAAAACK BODY DROP! Flair goes to the eyes, but he’s caught up top for a slam to the mat. IT’S STEREO FIGURE-FOUR TIME! Woman claws Mongo’s eyes to incite an argument amongst the wives. Liz and Woman chase Debra and Tara (Greene’s wife) all the way to the locker room. Back in the ring, Flair tosses out Mongo for Arn and Heenan to get in some licks until Savage chases them off. Mongo tries to come back with a choke on Flair and gets kicked in the balls. Rolling Knee Drop connects. In comes Arn for a double suplex. Mongo finally gets a break once he atomic drops Arn into Flair. HOT TAG TO GREENE! Shoulderblocks and slams abound. Powerslam, but no cover. Flair Flip leads right into a big boot on the apron from Mongo. Suplex back in by Greene. During the excitement, Arn clips him real good from behind. Flair and Arn take Greene to school to set up the FIGURE-FOUR! Arn helps out with some leverage. Savage saves, but here comes Benoit to help take care of Savage. Cue the women. We now have Woman, Liz, and Debra in a nice pink evening gown. Debra shows Mongo a Haliburton filled with a Horsemen t-shirt and a TON of money. Greene reverses the Figure-Four over into the ropes and calls out to Mongo. He replies with a HALIBURTON TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! Flair covers, 1-2-3. (20:50) Savage lunges on Flair and gets pulled off him by Mongo. We now have our fourth Horsemen as Mongo puts on the t-shirt. And after the back-and-forth insults over the last nine months on Nitro, Heenan shakes Mongo’s hand on his way out. Well-booked, highly entertaining bout. Sadly, this would prove to be McMichael’s greatest match ever throughout his 2 1/2 year long career as a part of the Horsemen. ***½
Eric Bischoff brings out the “interruption”. He asks Hall and Nash straight up whether or not they work for the WWF. They both quickly answer no and demand to know who their three opponents are for the Bash at the Beach on July 7. Whip out the checkbook, Billionaire Ted. When Bischoff refuses to tell them who their opponents will be, Hall jabs Bischoff in the gut to set up a POWERBOMB from Nash off the STAGE through a TABLE! These boys mean BUSINESS. This huge moment in WCW history that turned the nWo angle up a notch had to be pretty sweet for the ECW fan boys who hated Bischoff at the time.
WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Lex Luger
On his way to the ring, Lex Luger checks on Bischoff. Giant walks on by Bischoff because he’s an evil, heartless man. Big match feel as Buffer introduces both men once they’re in the ring. I like that. Luger completely UNLOADS on the Giant to start with everything he’s got. Luger jumps on Giant’s back for a sleeper. Jimmy Hart hops up on the apron and tries to get at Luger, but Sting comes down and chases Jimmy to the locker room so that we don’t see a repeat from Slamboree. Giant flips Luger over on his shoulder and drives him into the corner. Giant starts doing Giant things and works a bunch of backbreakers. Makes sense if you don’t want to get caught in the Torture Rack. Slam attempt from Luger doesn’t work. Luger kicks Giant back out of the corner and starts connecting with LOADED FOREARMS! He clips Giant down to one knee and pounds away. Giant shoves Luger back and charges, but gets hung up on the top turnbuckle. Luger starts kicking away. Knee Lift turns Giant over on his back to set up a TORTURE RACK! He holds him for a second, but then his back gives out. CHOKESLAM! Try again another time, Lex. (9:36) Many WCW haters at the time thought it was a forgone clause that Luger was going to be the surprise third guy that Hall and Nash kept talking about. They would interfere in the main event and cost Giant the belt. Well, SWERVE on those guys. Not bad, but Lex’s big man matches were never really all that great. *½
Final Thoughts: This was a landmark show for WCW. They introduced Rey Mysterio who was extremely integral to the hotness of WCW’s cruiserweight division for the rest of the company’s existence, Hall and Nash made a statement that really created a buzz for the nWo angle that leads to WCW becoming the top wrestling company in the world, Benoit was involved in a star-making match, and everybody else seemed extra motivated to have good matches. There’s hardly any perfect wrestling cards, but this was well-booked and contained everything you want in a good PPV. Easily the most enjoyable PPV in at least two years. HUGE thumbs up for The Great American Bash 1996.